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Cop Land

Yellow Betrays Blue
In a land where nothing is what it seems, Freddie Hefflin is the sheriff of Garrison, New Jersey. Garrison is an eerily normal town with young families and very low crime...due to the fact that it is inhabited almost completely by cops. Just a few minutes drive across the bridge from the Garrison, though, lies the monster of New York City where (as Harvey Keitel's character Ray Donlan describes) "everything is upside down as the cop is the 'perp' and the 'perp' is the victim". As much as we wish that all of these cops are upright men and women, with only the most noble concerns at heart, we quickly find that such is not the case.

With an overweight Stallone (who upped from a 32" to a 39" waist for the role) playing the extremely insecure Hefflin, this movie lost much respect from critics from day one as it relied heavily on cast and performance. The formula for its success, however, does not disappoint as DeNiro and Keitel are re-united for the first time since 'Mean Streets' and both actors give two of the best performances of their careers. The plot of the film (however easily attacked by over-eager critics) is still riveting enough to keep the audience glued the storyline and characters with the aid of a slight suspension of disbelief. Ray Liotta also delivers brilliantly in the depiction of the complex character of Gary 'Figgsy' Figgis who finds himself in a moral battle between his fellow officers and his friends.

Movies of this caliber are rarely made anymore; a simple enough premise that requires closer investigation by the audience, complete with an exceptionally talented cast right down to the very minor supporting roles (i.e. Peter Berg, Michael Rapaport, Annabella Sciorra, Mailk Yoba, Janeane Garofalo, John Spencer, Paul Calderon, Robert Patrick, etc). 'Cop Land' is a story about the true blue of not only the grit and integrity of real police officers but real people. It's a great example of how moral lines can be blurred and how, especially within the world of crime and politics, the answer is not always so easy. Stallone's performance is by itself an achievement, and if you're a fan of the old boys of New York, you'll love seeing them duke it out on screen.


Kings of Komedy and Kung Fu
From Eddie Murphy's character Kit Ramsey quoting the voice in his head which states clearly that 'the laker girls need to be taken down a peg or two' to Steve Martin explaining that 'every' movie production costs under 3 grand cash to actually make to Robert Downey Jr. reading the tag line of a movie script (written by Martin's character) which reads 'Gotcha Suckaaaaz!''s understandable that this film is a hidden gem of talent, writing and comedic quality. I don't think Steve Martin ever truly 'lost his way' as some critics suggest, but that he was waiting for the right time to do a film project HIS way rather than the film company's way. There are even little film geek jabs, in the movie, at production companies like Paramount and Universal. Murphy is almost at his best here since 'Beverly Hills Cop' (that's right, there's no number after Cop because the other two don't really count) and makes the gut flex and strain quite a few times with his double nerd/buffoon role playing both the hilare Kit Ramsey and Kit Ramsey's brother. All in all, two kings of the 80's/90's comedy film scene get to steal the show together and even do some Kung Fu fighting (with the song playing) to win our hearts and our hope for the future of good, quality comic fun on the big screen.

I Heart Huckabees

I hate Huckabees
Seeing the far-off trailer of this movie, I was excited about the lure of this film and the colour and theme of characters within. It looked to a be a film of promise and intense philosophical discussion. Plus, the fact that Jason Schwartzman takes a hard whap in the face from a rubber child-rider (80's) ball from Mark Wahlberg stole my heart from day one. HOWEVER...

This film left me wishing and hoping for more...and then the credits rolled up. Great cast, yes. Funny and interesting premise, definitely. Good (And I am most surprised by the number of users who have given this movie perfect scores!) The plot and idea are contrived beyond repair and seeing Jason Schwartzman parade around in his turrets-like swear spasms made me see the movie as more of an appeal for a quirky, artsy Garden State wanna-be (which is not a compliment) type audience. Jude Law was more of a model than an actor in this role, stiff and overdone at the same time, and no one really cared that he told the 'tunafish story' as many times as he did. It really didn't matter in the end because with this much casting talent, I felt cheated. Unfunnily, the film rolls along and we are led to believe that some transformations happen but with the horribly quirky music throughout, to boot, and thrown-in cameos (shania, yes, shania twain is in this movie) we are weighed and left wanting. Mark Wahlberg's energy-conscious fireman shows promise at times but never blossoms.

Three Kings was an excellent, excellent film. I'm not sure why David Russell took on this project because, really, there is only one Wes Anderson. I just wish every director would stop trying to be him.

Destiny Turns on the Radio

Destiny Turns off the Tarantino
Aside from an earlier comment written about this movie, I happen to believe that DESTINY TURNS ON THE RADIO is a fine indie film. The dialogue is actually quite pungent with one-liners and gritty 'over-the-top' tough-guy-ness which makes it rather enjoyable. The story takes place in Las Vegas where an animistic spirit in the form of a man, Johnny Destiny (played by Tarantino), brings luck and good fortune to whoever he comes into contact with. The cast is idealistic and sparked with character, especially in the cases of wacky Thoreau and angry Julian (played respectively by James Le Gros and Dylan McDermott), and in a surprise casting move with comic veteran James Belushi as Tuerto, casino manager of The Stardust and new lover of the befallen Lucille (Nancy Travis of 'SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER'). Johnny Destiny is the somewhat loose glue binding all of these characters together, which is a far stretch I'll admit, but the fun is in how it plays out, the excessive Las Vegasy overacting (which shouldn't be mistaken for real acting) and the quips of the dialogue. The only problem with this film, however, is that Tarantino's acting is horrid and somehow his association with this movie lumped it into a generic Tarantino-esque category, making its viewers somewhat upset due to the overwhelming lack of F-words, point-blank gunpoint stand-offs, and bloody faces. What DESTINY TURNS ON THE RADIO does offer, however, is a magical, mystical feel in a city where lady luck is prayed upon every second, and characters who obviously take themselves too seriously only to learn that success and fortune can fade in the flash of a lightning bolt. Other interesting and great casting mentions go to Bobcat Goldthwait and David Cross.

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